Labour fails to commit to supporting freedom of movement post-Brexit

Labour’s manifesto falls short of committing to support the continuation of freedom of movement if the UK leaves the EU.

The party had been under pressure to agree a position on the issue following a conference motion advocating the extension of free movement being approved in September.

Labour’s manifesto does commit the party to creating “a humane immigration system” and says the 2014 Immigration Act would be scrapped under a Labour government.

It also confirms that EU nationals will be granted the automatic right to continue living and working in the UK under a new “declaratory system”.

Labour’s manifesto makes clear that freedom of movement would continue if the UK remains part of the EU, but adds that the situation will be “subject to negotiations” if Brexit takes place.

“If we remain in the EU, freedom of movement would continue,” the manifesto says.

“If we leave, it will be subject to negotiations, but we recognise the social and economic benefits that free movement has brought both in terms of EU citizens here and UK citizens abroad – and we will seek to protect those rights.”

The document also shows that Jeremy Corbyn’s party has ruled out pursuing net migration targets.

The document says EU nationals can register for proof of status if they wish, but will no longer have to apply to continue living and working in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme.

It adds that a Labour government would “uphold the right to a family life for British, EU and non-EU residents”.

“We will end the deportation of family members of people entitled to be here and end the minimum income requirements which separate families,” it says.

It adds that the country’s immigration system “must allow us to recruit the people we need, and to welcome them and their families”.

When pressed on whether free movement would continue, on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Corbyn said: “There will be a lot of movement.”

The party’s 2017 manifesto said free movement would end at the point of Brexit.

Labour’s 2019 manifesto says the party’s immigration system will be “aimed at meeting the skills and labour shortages” in the UK.

“Our system will be built on human rights and aimed at meeting the skills and labour shortages that exist in our economy and public services,” the document says.

“Our work visa system must fill any skills or labour shortages that arise. The movement of people around the world has enriched our society, our economy and our culture.”

It continues: “Labour recognises the huge benefits of immigration to our country.

“Many British citizens have benefited from freedom of movement, which has given them the opportunity to study, work or retire abroad.”

The party’s manifesto also says that citizens’ rights “should never have been used as a bargaining chip in the Brexit negotiations”.

A Labour government will end the “hostile environment” that caused the Windrush scandal, and will uphold the UK’s international legal obligations to refugees and “allow people to exercise their rights to seek asylum”, the document adds.

The party says it would “work with others to resume rescue missions in the Mediterranean, co-operate with the French authorities to put an end to the horrific camps and establish safe and legal routes for asylum seekers”.

It adds that once in the UK, “refugees will have the right to work, access to public services and will be treated humanely by government at all levels”.

Labour also commits to taking “decisive action to regulate the labour market to stop the undercutting of wages and conditions, restoring the overseas domestic workers’ visa and ending “indefinite detention”.

If in power, the party would also close the immigration detention centres Yarl’s Wood and Brook House and says the savings made would contribute to a £20 million fund to “support the survivors of modern slavery, people trafficking and domestic violence”.

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